Sunday 17 July 2011

The Movie Was Wack: The Little Princess

I love this movie. It's really entertaining and fun... but it's not A Little Princess. Literally - notice the The? It's a Shirley Temple film first, and A Little Princess adaptation second. Or maybe even third or fourth. It doesn't have a helluva lot in common with the original text - sure, character names are the same, and the bare bones of the plot are there, but all the muscle has a decidedly different shape. If there wasn't another great adaptation, that might annoy me more, but as it is I was pretty happy to go along for the Templetastic ride.

She is her adorable self in this film - complete with all the singing, dancing, pouting, dimply smiles and a good dose of by-golly-goshness. But she's not Sara Crewe. Oh, that's her character's name, and there's talk about how she'd rather read books and imagine things than do anything else, but her actions speak loudly in contradiction to this. I guess I can't complain too much, because I still found her more likable than Sara in the book. It was the movie characters that didn't exist in the book at all that tended to bug me; I felt they detracted from the story more than they added to it, in particular replacing some of the whimsical and magical aspects that are so great in the book. So, while as a Shirley Temple film this is awesome, as an adaptation it's not so much.

Rating: 3/5

Changes That Worked
  • As in the more recent adaptation, the fate of Sara's father is changed for the better.
  • Shirley gives Sara much more sparkle and spunk than she has in the book - one of my favourite moments is when she dumps a bucket of coal dust onto Lavinia's head. I also enjoyed her song and dance numbers, even if the second one is oddly timed (in the middle of her search for her father), and the dream sequence is totally random and trippy.
  • Becky was also given better treatment in this version, even receiving gifts at the same time as Sara. I really enjoyed her character, even though she didn't get a lot of screen time.
Changes That Didn't
  • The addition of more adults for Sara to befriend at Miss Minchin's essentially replaced her friendships with the girls (except for Becky) which was a shame.
  • The war storyline overshadowed Sara's experiences at the school.
  • I also found Rose's romance totally unnecessary - sure, it was a sweet story, and would have been nice in another movie, but it had no place in this one.
  • I don't understand why Queen Victoria had to be there - or why the movie ended with Sara and Captain Crewe meeting her, with no real resolution, especially for important characters like Becky and Miss Minchin. WTF?!


  1. mm I've never heard of the book or movie.
    I love watching old films though, i've been obsessed with 80's movies like the breakfast club at the moment.
    great post :)

  2. Thanks! I love 80s movies too, The Breakfast Club is one of my faves! :D

  3. This was the first one I remember seeing. It was on some Sat. and I enjoyed it. I knew there would be holes because it was mostly to showcase Shirley Temple. Still was fun. Good review!

  4. Oh I love random Saturday arvo movies! And yeah, you can't expect a Shirley Temple film to be accurate... but it's still fun!

  5. lol! I love the way you wrote this. I've never seen the movie, but I can totally picture it all now. Thanks for the laughs!

  6. +JMJ+

    I saw this one as a girl. Even then, I found Shirley Temple too cute and sunny to be Sara. There's something of the broody melancholic on Sara Crewe that we don't see any of here!

    And now that you bring it up, I was very bothered that there was no resolution for Becky. She gets into trouble helping Sara near the end, doesn't she? And then we don't know what happens next--or whether Sara even thinks of her now that Captain Crewe has come back. =/ Not cool!

  7. Thanks Smalls :)

    Enbrethiliel - Your right, even after she thinks her father is dead, she cries a bit and then is back to her chipper self. It's not quite right.

  8. I read A Little Princess over and over. Can't really pick a favorite between the two movies, they both have things I love about them.

  9. Yes, they're quite different movies considering they're based on the same book!

  10. I've never seen this version but I remember watching the 1995 adaptation on repeat when I was younger.
    I absolutely adore the book though. One of my all time favourites.

  11. I watched it on repeat too! I only read the book recently and sadly I wasn't a fan.